The Thandanani Women's Ensemble was formed in 1991 by women in their 40s and 50s most of them from Mashobana township where they are also now holding their weekly rehearsals. The initial idea was to enjoy their arts and culture together and to share it with the young generation, thus the Ndebele word "thandanani" means, loving one another. Beyond love, enjoyment and education, the group is by now well known for their vibrant performances in traditional song and dance, established in the national arts industry and well versed as accapella performers in recordings and performers in film. Radio continental drift was fortunate catching up with the ladies during one of their rehearsals in Matshobane Community Hall. They generously shared their passion for the arts, their knowledge, love and energy with me... I believe no one will remain untouched from this special mix in their performances. They are fantastic performers! I put my little field-recording equipment to the task on this challenging stage. Its limits can be heard! But I think you'll still get an idea of the enjoyment and of these ladies vibrant art practice...! I had to create excerpts of songs using the best parts of the recordings. When the ambience indoors became a bit strong due to a youth group next-door playing music, we decided to continue outside. We recorded four songs indoors, where they usually train (bare over-resonant room) ; and four outside (in the boiling midday sun).
An interview with Ellen Mlangeni, the leader of Thandanani followed under a tree outside their rehearsal room (voices from the other women inside the room are in the background). Ellen tells the story how the group formed and recounts the history of their recordings and successes (you'll hear the drone of the nearby road into town; and, unfortunately, the midday breeze in my mic in the second track of the interview...)
indoors: 01 a rainmaking song, excerpt 02 "thandanani!" love one another!, song, excerpt 03 "culture will never end", intro (stick-fight song/ dance) 04 bulls head story, intro 05 song, excerpt; describing a scene of men around the fire place while balls-head dish is being prepared and cooked outdoors: 06 song, excerpt ("we need African leaders...!") 07 song, Kalanga dance ("you can arrest me... but I'll always come back to the arts!"} 08 two good-bye songs ("we are so happy to see you..." and, "taxi man, take me home...")
This playlist forms part of THE WOMEN SING AT BOTH SIDES OF THE ZAMBEZI, an archive of life-story-telling by African women. For more information and how you can join, read here: http://both-sides-of-the-zambezi.tumblr.com/